Senator Karla Eslinger's Legislative Column for Feb. 3, 2023

Friday, February 3, 2023

First Bills Approved by Senate

The Missouri Senate entered a new phase of the legislative process this week as the first bills referred out of committees were taken up for perfection. I’m happy to report the first bill to pass out of the Senate was legislation I sponsored, Senate Bill 51. Final passage of this legislation will increase access to rehabilitative health care services for all Missourians, but especially those in rural parts of the state where it’s often difficult to see a primary physician.

Under current law, a patient with a sprained ankle or some other injury must make an appointment with a physician, explain the situation and then be referred to a physical therapist. Senate Bill 51 would allow patients to skip the step of scheduling a doctor’s visit and go straight to physical therapy. Allowing patients to access routine therapy directly will save Missourians money and get them back on their feet and feeling better quicker. The legislation only applies to providers with a doctorate of physical therapy or at least five years of clinical experience, and more serious injuries will require seeing a doctor. Missouri is the only state that doesn’t have some form of direct access to physical therapy, and I’m happy to be moving this bill forward to change that.

Although I was not a sponsor, I was pleased to also see Senate Bill 3 and 69 perfected in the upper chamber this week. This legislation combines two separate bills, both aimed at promoting business development and freeing small business owners from burdensome regulations. Known as the “Regulatory Sandbox Act,” the bill would allow businesses to apply for waivers from regulations for up to two years while they introduce new products and explore innovative ways to benefit consumers. These waivers would have to be approved by a newly formed Regulatory Relief Office, ensuring that any rule or regulation being relaxed would not be detrimental to Missourians. This bill would also create an Office of Entrepreneurship, which would be tasked with promoting policies and initiatives to support entrepreneurs in Missouri.

Both of the measures perfected this week will help move Missouri forward by reducing the burden of rules and regulations on citizens and businesses in our state. As chair of the Governmental Accountability Committee, I’ll be looking for other innovative ways to free our state’s job creators from unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy.

It is my honor to serve the residents of Douglas, Howell, Ozark, Shannon, Stone, Taney and Texas counties in the Missouri Senate, and it’s always a pleasure to hear from friends and family back home. If I can help you in any way, please call my Capitol Office at 573-751-1882.  You can also visit my webpage at, on Facebook: @SenatorKarlaEslinger, or follow me on Twitter: @seneslingermo.